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A new government for Italy, a surprise appearance in Britain and a sex law in Sweden. Here’s the latest:
• Of all the questions hanging over Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, one stands out: How will President Trump fare in the end?
Here are several possible outcomes. An indictment while Mr. Trump is in office would be the most aggressive option, but it has grown increasingly unlikely.
In a series of Twitter posts on Wednesday about the Russia investigation, Mr. Trump repeated allegations that federal investigators had used spies against his campaign. He gave the supposed scandal a name: “SPYGATE.”
Meanwhile, a judge ruled that the president’s Twitter feed is a public forum and that he cannot block anyone from following him.
And the president’s son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, has been granted a permanent security clearance after a lengthy process that fueled speculation over his Russia contacts.
• After 80 days of talks, the populist parties that won the largest share of seats in Italy’s parliamentary elections two months ago got the go-ahead to form a government.
European leaders now face the prospect of an Italian government that could blow up the eurozone through big spending and increased debt, while challenging Brussels on Russia and migration.
Above, the parties’ consensus pick for prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, a little-known lawyer with no government experience. Mr. Conte’s debut on the national stage was not entirely smooth. Apparent exaggerations in his résumé, first reported by The New York Times, set off a deeply politicized debate about whether he should serve.
Critics charge that he’ll be a pawn of the parties behind him: the Five Star Movement, a web-based protest party untested at a national level; and the League, a hard-right party that campaigned on a strident Italians-first platform.
• It has proved to be another tumultuous week in Washington, where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, above, skirmished with a House Democrat over the security of diplomats abroad.
Mr. Pompeo angrily defended his record and spoke of North Korea, Venezuela and his criticism of Hillary Clinton in the aftermath of the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.
He also told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that medical teams were headed to Guangzhou, China, where a U.S. government employee had signs of possible traumatic brain injury after reporting disturbing sounds and sensations. (Similar illnesses have been reported by U.S. diplomats before — in Cuba.)
• Yes means yes.
The Swedish Parliament passed a law requiring explicit consent — verbal or physical — from participants before they engage in a sexual act.
The law is set to change the way rape and other sexual crimes are prosecuted in the country, where the number of reported sexual offenses is on the rise. Above, a protest against rape in Malmo, Sweden, in December.
“It should sit in the spines of every boy and man in Sweden that this is how it is,” Sweden’s justice minister said.
• “Slow and extremely painful.”
That’s how Yulia Skripal, whose poisoning with a nerve agent in England this year set off a diplomatic clash between Moscow and the West, described her recovery in her first videotaped statement since the attack.
Ms. Skripal’s appearance, above, seemed intended to quell speculation from Russia that Britain had fabricated the March 4 poisoning of Ms. Skripal and her father, Sergei. She appeared to have no visible aftereffects from the Soviet-developed nerve agent and said she hoped to return to Russia someday.
Meanwhile, the University of Oxford released data about its admissions for the first time. The figures showed a continuing gap in prospects along racial and economic lines.
• Start-up nation? France has quickly become one of the hottest destinations in Europe for technology investment, a top priority for President Emmanuel Macron, above. But the country lags behind Britain and faces big challenges in its mission to become a leader.
• BMW and Mercedes-Benz rebuffed Apple’s overtures for a self-driving car partnership, according to people familiar with the talks. Now Apple is said to have a deal with Volkswagen for the project.
• To comply with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect on Friday, internet companies have been updating their data policies. Here’s how you can benefit (even if you don’t live in Europe).
• A looming bust? Argentina and now Turkey have been forced to raise interest rates to defend their currencies from growing pressure on emerging markets, worrying investors.
• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
• In Germany, officers recently caught 21 families with school-age children trying to travel a few days before official vacations, when tickets often cost less. The fine for traveling without a teacher’s authorization: up to $ 1,200. Above, a class in Goerlitz, Germany. [The New York Times]
• Land of the free: The N.F.L. will fine teams if their players kneel on the field or sidelines during the American national anthem. Players began kneeling in 2016 to protest racism and police brutality. [The New York Times]
• Saudi Arabia has arrested at least 11 activists who had pressed for the right of women to drive and publicly branded them as “traitors.” The source of the crackdown: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wants the reform to be seen as his royal gift, not a concession to activists or the West. [The New York Times]
• A Muslim religious leader in Britain was found guilty of sexually assaulting a boy in a mosque’s attic, more than 20 years after the abuse took place. [BBC]
• Iran’s supreme leader outlined tough conditions that Britain, France and Germany must accept to save the 2015 nuclear deal, including a pledge not to open new negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missiles. [Deutsche Welle]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• To find decent seats at reasonable prices, it helps if you know how and when to look for sports tickets.
• A novice fossil hunter went searching for dinosaurs along a stretch of English shoreline known as the Jurassic Coast, above, a Unesco World Heritage site with a rich geological history that goes back 185 million years.
• Carbon dioxide helps plants grow, but a new study shows that more of it can make important crops like rice less nutritious by changing their chemical makeup and diluting vitamins and minerals.
• Shopping isn’t the first thought that springs to mind about Verona, a picturesque city in Italy’s Veneto region. (Think of Romeo and Juliet.) But shops in the town’s historic center are worthy of attention.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have long claimed to be “two great tastes that taste great together,” the result of a semi-magical pairing of chocolate and peanut butter. Their origin is hardly so felicitous.
Harry Burnett Reese, who was born on this day in 1879, tried his hand at fishing, farming and factory work before landing a job on a dairy farm owned by the Hershey Chocolate Company in Pennsylvania.
Inspired by Hershey’s sweet success, Reese started making candy in his basement, naming his confections after his children (he and his wife had 16). After many stops and starts, he hit gold in 1928 with a product he called peanut butter cups or “penny cups,” for how much a single piece cost.
Seven years after Reese’s death in 1956, Hershey bought his company for $ 23.5 million. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups soon became its best-selling product.
The candy’s appeal is truly out of this world: In 1982, the miniature version, Reese’s Pieces, had a role in Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” The director and his team originally wanted the alien to snack on M&Ms, but the parent company, Mars, turned them down.
Charles McDermid wrote today’s Back Story.
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